Hot topics close

5 takeaways: Michigan basketball vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Might have been a loss, but what a gritty game for the short-handed Wolverines! #GoBlue

After 10 days away from the hardwood, a reeling Michigan basketball team had easily its toughest test, traveling to Champaign to take on No. 25 Illinois. While that itself is a tall task, the Wolverines had to do so without Hunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns Jr., both of whom are still reportedly in the COVID-19 protocol.

Without Dickinson and Johns, Moussa Diabate and Terrance Williams got to start, and we saw Jaron Faulds get some early time as well, along with Frankie Collins, Kobe Bufkin, and Jace Howard.

Despite it seeming like this should have been an automatic win for Illinois, the maize and blue turned it into a slugfest. The Illini have been a solid scoring team, but the Wolverines kept them from being able to do much of that.

Nearly every time that the Illini started to pull away, the Wolverines managed to answer, even pulling within one point with seven minutes remaining in the second half. However, Illinois still proved to be too much for the maize and blue, eventually piling on and winning 68-53.

Here are our five takeaways from the game.

1 Defense leads the way

Photo: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With the Wolverines being so short handed and without their top scorer in Hunter Dickinson, it was going to be imperative that the maize and blue do one of the things they’ve had a hard time doing this year: playing incredible defense.

And that’s precisely what Michigan did.

While the Illini would find opportunities, the Wolverines kept them to a season low in the first half, as the defense gave Michigan a chance, short handed or not, to steal the game away on the road. While that didn’t come to fruition, the maize and blue’s defense finally looked much improved, after a disappointing start to the season on that front.

2 Offense (obviously) lacking

Photo: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

As good as the defense might have been, the offense — again, without leading scorer Hunter Dickinson — was an absolute disaster.

Despite having so many players that theoretically can score, the Wolverines still remain allergic to it. Michigan cannot hit a shot from deep — a big reversal from last year’s team. The maize and blue, really, couldn’t hit from much of anywhere, except the paint. Offensive rebounds gave the Wolverines some opportunities, but again, the offensive attack cannot be this anemic, especially when they’re taking care of the basketball and playing solid defense.

Speaking of. . .

3 Michigan took care of the basketball

Photo: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

If only the offense could have held its end of the bargain.

Because in the past, the reason why Michigan would lose games was either poor perimeter defense or constant turnovers. However, neither was really the case for the Wolverines in Champaign. For the most part, the maize and blue didn’t turn the ball over that much, but the disappointing this is perhaps that, despite winning the turnover battle, Michigan didn’t capitalize that much with just 5 points off of 13 Illinois turnovers.

4 Coming out party for DeVante’ Jones

Photo: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jones has not been particularly good in his short Michigan basketball tenure, but that changed in a hurry on Friday night.

When the Wolverines needed a play, Jones often found a way. He was excellent on both ends of the court and led the maize and blue with 17 points while adding 6 rebounds. He also added 3 steals.

If Michigan can get this type of performance from him consistently, it could turn around its fortunes in a hurry.

5 Gritty game from the Wolverines

(AP Photo/Michael Allio)

In a game where Michigan didn’t stand a chance, one where the Wolverines should have been blown out by halftime given this year’s trajectory mixed with the key absences, the maize and blue hung tough, played with outstanding energy and effort.

Despite playing without Dickinson, Kofi Cockburn didn’t dominate as you might expect — though he certainly still got his. Whenever Michigan would start finding itself getting into a sizable deficit, it always battled back.

Though a loss, if the Wolverines can play like this when full strength, it very well could signal a change for what’s been a disappointing season thus far.

Similar shots
News Archive
  • iCarly
    The new 'iCarly' reboot perfectly explains Sam's absence
    17 Jun 2021
  • Wyoming primary 2022
    Wyoming primary 2022
    Wyoming Primary Election Results 2022: Live Updates : Live Coverage: 2022 Primaries
    16 Aug 2022
  • Making a Murderer
    Making a Murderer
    Questions about alleged political bias of Trump whistleblower emerge; Will impeachment probe backfire on Dems?
    24 Sep 2019
  • Thomas Bryant
    Thomas Bryant
    Lakers trade center Thomas Bryant to Nuggets; acquire Mo Bamba ...
    9 Feb 2023
  • USA vs Iran
    USA vs Iran
    What time is USA vs Iran today? TV schedule, channel, live stream to watch World Cup match in US and Canada
    28 Nov 2022
  • Real Madrid vs Elche
    Real Madrid vs Elche
    Real Madrid vs Elche summary: score, goals, highlights LaLiga ...
    15 Feb 2023
This week's most popular shots